Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

VISTA Camera takes to the air

18.01.2007
The world’s biggest infrared camera for Europe’s newest telescope left the UK today (17th January 2007) for its flight to Santiago in Chile.

The infrared camera will sit at the focal point of VISTA – a UK provided survey telescope being constructed in Chile for ESO, the Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere. VISTA will be able to map the infrared sky faster than any previous telescope, studying areas of the Universe that are hard to see in the optical region of the spectrum due to either (or all of) their cool temperature, surrounding dust or their high redshift.

The 2.9 tonne VISTA camera has been designed and built by a consortium including CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC) in Edinburgh and the University of Durham. Mr Kim Ward, the Camera Manager, oversaw the technical challenges “The inside of the camera is under vacuum and it operates at a temperature of -200 degrees, so in many ways it has been like designing an instrument for use in space, but with the additional constraint of having to survive an earthquake environment. VISTA has a much larger number of infrared sensitive detectors than previous infrared instruments – totalling 67 million pixels, and its wide field of view requires it to have the largest ever window of any infrared camera.”

Only one airline offers regular cargo flights to Chile, so the camera will be loaded into a container and taken by ferry to mainland Europe, so that it can catch its Boeing 747 flight from Luxemburg on the 22nd January. The container is so large that it will only just fit in this massive plane. Once it touches down in Santiago, the container will be driven 1300 km to the mountain top where VISTA is being assembled at ESO’s Cerro Paranal Observatory.

VISTA is due to start scientific operations in the last quarter of 2007. Professor Jim Emerson of Queen Mary, University London is VISTA’s Principal Investigator “VISTA will be able to take good quality images of areas of sky each about 3 times as great as the full moon. This means it can survey quickly which is its niche. The camera is crucial to carrying out VISTA’s surveys which will provide statistical samples of objects and at the same time locate and characterise rare and variable objects, and perhaps most tantalisingly make discoveries of the as-yet unknown.”

VISTA will survey large areas of the southern sky at near infrared wavelengths (2 to 4 times the wavelength of visible light) to study objects that are not seen easily in optical light either because they are too cool to (such as brown dwarfs), or are surrounded by interstellar dust which infrared light penetrates much better than optical, or whose optical light is redshifted into the near infrared by the expansion of the Universe. Amongst other things VISTA’s surveys will help our understanding of the nature and distribution and origin of known types of stars and galaxies, map the 3-D structure of our galaxy, and help determine the relation between the 3-D structure of the universe and the mysterious ‘dark energy’ and dark matter’. Samples of objects will be followed up in detail with further observations by other telescopes and instruments such as the nearby Very Large Telescope (VLT).

Professor Richard Wade, Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council Director and President of ESO Council said "The unique Paranal site, the large 4-m telescope aperture, the wide field, and the high efficiency of the detectors will make VISTA the world's outstanding ground based near-IR survey instrument."

Catherine Cesarsky, ESO's Director General commented “VISTA is an eagerly awaited addition to ESO’s suite of telescopes. Wide area surveys such as those which VISTA will undertake can drive discoveries across the field of astronomy.”

VISTA is a £36 million project, funded by grants from the DTI’s Joint Infrastructure Fund and the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) to Queen Mary, University of London, the lead institute of the VISTA Consortium. VISTA forms part of the UK’s subscription to ESO and will be an ESO telescope. VISTA is project managed by PPARC’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre.

Julia Maddock | alfa
Further information:
http://www.pparc.ac.uk/Nw/vista_camera.asp

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect
24.05.2017 | Vienna University of Technology

nachricht Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect
24.05.2017 | University of Cologne

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>